‘Battle royale’ was never fought
I write in reaction to an item in Bizz Buzz “titled Ongpin-Ashmore battle royale” (Inquirer, 7/15/13). In fairness to the Ashmore Group and myself, I believe it is incumbent upon me to correct and put into perspective the comments made by Inquirer reporter Daxim Lucas.
In the article, which is generally accurate in most aspects, Lucas makes it appear that there is a “battle royale” between Ashmore and myself and this battle is brewing or actually raging. Unfortunately, whoever provided Lucas with copies of the e-mail exchanges between myself and Ashmore either deliberately or inadvertently never explained to him that these exchanges were at least three to four months old, and what he saw as a “battle royale” was in fact never fought because the issues between Ashmore and myself have been peacefully and amicably resolved.
The only thing that I am pleased about is Lucas’ conclusion that the “battle royale” between myself and Ashmore should once and for all debunk the fairy tale that the Ashmore money which was invested in Alphaland is not really Ashmore’s money but that of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
People who understand the private equity fund business know that these funds normally have a seven-year life. The relationship between myself and Ashmore started in 2006 and is now nearing its seven-year life, which means that the invested funds need to be liquidated and returned to their investors. I do not deny that there were issues and disagreements between Ashmore and myself. Ashmore made it clear to me that no more funds would be available from Ashmore for Alphaland. Thus, we went on to explore several possibilities whereby a third party or even myself would acquire the Ashmore investment in Alphaland. Thus, it is a fact that the “battle royale” was never fought and never happened.
In fact, a few weeks ago, an investment group, which for obvious reasons cannot be named at this time, agreed with Ashmore to buy the Ashmore stake in Alphaland. The price has been agreed on, and they are now going through the final drafting of the various agreements that are required.
I feel constrained to write this letter to clarify that in fact Alphaland is not “losing” its funding source (Ashmore); it is in fact gaining a new investor which will continue to support the Alphaland projects. My own belief is that, in fact, the new investor will be more aggressive in backing Alphaland projects because it will not be operating under any seven-year funding constraint.
Finally, I would like to say that I will always be grateful to Ashmore for having backed me for the last seven years. Without their financial backing and support, the projects of Alphaland, including such “jewels in the crown” as Balesin Island Club, Makati Place, Alphaland Tower, Alphaland Marina Club and several other major projects, would never have come into existence.
—ROBERTO V. ONGPIN
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